Neil ‘Hammer’ Gray captained a full 2’s team (including subs) against a a very experienced Ballymena 4’s side. This in itself was a particularly good achievement, considering the ‘drop outs’ the night before and that morning!
Fielding an eclectic mix of older stalwarts, new recruits, younger Ophir ‘graduates’ - the game started with Ballymena taking the kick. Bobby caught the ball, offloaded to Daniel McNeil, who ran cross filed but also up field, (onlookers were a little nervous), avoiding a variety of tacklers, crossing the halfway line near the opposite side of the pitch, he then passed to Josh Collins, who the pinned his ears back, running the 40+ metres and scored under the posts, 7-0, this took Ballymena a little by surprise, waking them up, the game was on!
Scores were made by both sides, with the lead swapping a couple of times. Ballymena seeming to have the advantage and run of more of the ‘calls’, capitalised on this and played a very ‘clever’ game. In areas of a very ‘open’ running game, Ophir played well, scoring 5 tries, converting 3 of them, whilst Ballymena outscored with 8 tries.
Josh ended with a hat trick of well executed tries, Ronan with superb support play, added his own, whilst Keith Lowry scored his first EVER try for Ophir (in front of his son Ben - who obliged by running touch) which, earned him MOTM!
Ballymena must be commended for their support play and turnovers, set-piece superiority and direct running, which was where they ‘won’ the game. This wasn’t a game that was ‘lost’, despite there being areas of the game that could be improved on, it was a game where a more experienced and skilled side won through.
Once again, Ophir can hold their heads high, every player giving a good example of their presence on the pitch, wearing the shirt with pride!
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